Skip to Content

Announcing the Emerging Leaders Council 2021 cohort

May 6, 2021

The Institute for Nonprofit News welcomes the 2021 Emerging Leaders’ Council. Now in its 4th year, the Council recognizes executives and managers at INN member organizations who have the potential to reinvent news and lead our field for decades to come. The new cohort of 13 individuals (see below) was nominated by supervisors and selected from an outstanding group of applicants. As part of the program, they will launch ambitious and transformative revenue, news and policy projects with support from experts in leadership, audience and philanthropy – and join a highly supportive network of their peers.

“People in leadership, whether they’ve done it for months or decades, need time to think about what it means to lead, and what it means to do it well,” says Sara Shahriari, Director of Leadership and Talent Development at the Institute for Nonprofit News. “It’s also important to step back, look at the whole, and start big initiatives in an intentional way. That’s what I appreciate most about this group – people are committed to thoughtful leadership and project design because they care about their audiences and their teams.”

The program is for full-time staff at INN member organizations, and this years’ cohort is the largest yet.

“These innovative, inspiring leaders are the faces of journalism’s future — they’re creating it. We congratulate members selected for the 2021 Emerging Leaders Council. And we appreciate the enormous talent and drive they bring to reinventing news,” said Sue Cross, executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News

The Emerging Leaders Council launched in 2017 to identify, connect, retain and support diverse leaders who will innovate and grow nonprofit news. This program uses 1-1 coaching and dynamic group conversations to advance leadership, management and business skills over the course of the four-month program. Participants then apply their skills by designing and launching a project for their news organization. Previous participants have launched successful fundraising campaigns, been promoted to more senior roles and built new equity initiatives in their organizations.

Emerging Leaders Councils are made possible by the generous support of the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Knight Foundation, and INN’s general support funders.

Bethanie Glaser serves as Chalkbeat’s chief of staff where she supports the executive leadership team and board of directors with organizational leadership, planning, and growth. Prior to inaugurating the Chalkbeat Chief of Staff role, she oversaw operations for the revenue team, contributing directly to revenue growth of $3 million. Prior to Chalkbeat, Bethanie worked in philanthropy and fundraising. She was a program manager at CityBridge Foundation, and she worked in development at Teach For America. 

Elliott Robinson joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018.  A native of Hampton, Virginia, he is a graduate of Christopher Newport University, where he received a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in journalism. His 15-year journalism career has included both large and small newsrooms in Virginia and North Carolina. He also is on the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Board of Directors.

Georgiana Ausan joined the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance as the Assistant Director in January 2021. She’s an experienced filmmaker and journalist with a passion for Native American storytelling. Georgiana helps plan and manage the creation of daily news segments for distribution on Buffalo’s Fire website. She also takes the lead managing innovative advertising strategies to increase revenue performance. Georgiana is a member of the Navajo Nation, and she was recently recognized for her work as consulting producer on “Unjust Enrichment: Rural Water Sold to Fracking Industry,” which won Buffalo’s Fire a Silver Telly awards in 2020.

Janeen Jones is the design editor for the Center for Public Integrity, an investigative newsroom in Washington, D.C. She helps shape the visual approach to storytelling for the organization. Before joining Public Integrity, she worked as a graphic designer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Politico. She has spent several years in other newsrooms as a news editor, copy editor and reporter.

Jennifer Hack Wolf is the audience development manager at The Beacon, a newsroom in Kansas City and Wichita. Previously, Wolf worked as a design-thinking consult, helping nonprofits solve critical problems. She spent more than 14 years at The Kansas City Star, first as a photographer and later as photo editor and editor of Ink Magazine where she oversaw all aspects of product content and strategy. Wolf is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her husband live in an old fire station and enjoy exploring the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Julián Aguilar is editor at El Paso Matters. He’s a journalist whose work has focused on the U.S.-Mexico border for 14 years, including 11 years at the Texas Tribune. In addition to extensive reporting on U.S.-Mexico border issues, Julian has organized and hosted multiple panels at the Texas Tribune Festival, one of the most successful events run by a nonprofit news organization. He recently joined El Paso Matters as its first editor.

Kimberly Griffin is the founding publisher of the Mississippi Free Press. She has long served as the associate publisher at the Jackson Free Press. She’s experienced at revenue generation, fundraising and community outreach. She is also a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Junior League of Jackson’s Leadership Institute. Kimberly currently serves on the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Board. She is also a lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  Kimberly is a graduate of Mississippi University for Women and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Kristine Villanueva is the project editor for Resolve Philly’s initiative Equally Informed, which addresses the digital and information divide in the city through a community-powered print newsletter and personal Q&A text service. Before Resolve, she was the audience engagement editor at the Center for Public Integrity, where she led nation-wide collaborations, engagement, social, newsletter and digital strategy. She is also a CUNY J-School alumna and adjunct and a proud Jersey girl. 

Nathalie Applewhite is the Pulitzer Center’s strategic director of development. She leads the Center’s development efforts, overseeing fundraising initiatives in collaboration with the executive director and other team leaders, the management of current grants, impact collection and communication, and the Center’s individual donor campaigns. Nathalie joined the Pulitzer Center in 2006, shortly after its founding, and has played a key role in the development of the Center’s model and approach towards journalism initiatives, communications, and public and educational outreach.

Nissa Rhee is executive director of Borderless Magazine, a multilingual news outlet that believes in the power of immigrant voices. She has covered global issues as a producer at Chicago Public Radio, served as a foreign correspondent in South Korea and Vietnam, and reported on police abuse and gun violence in Chicago. She taught journalism at Northeastern Illinois University and served as a reporting fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree from the University of Queensland.

Sumi Aggarwal is interim editor-in-chief at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. She joined Reveal in 2019, and has led some of the organization’s highest impact initiatives, including the Reveal Investigative Fellowship and Reveal Local. Under Sumi’s leadership, Reveal developed collaborative local reporting projects in New Orleans, San Jose and Akron, and national collaborations related to the rural healthcare system during COVID and the 2020 census. Sumi is a veteran journalist who spent nearly a decade producing award-winning investigations for “60 Minutes.” Before coming to Reveal, Aggarwal led executive communications for the maps and search teams at Google and worked at NBC News and several local media outlets.

Yukari Kane is co-founder and co-executive director of the Prison Journalism Project. She is an author, educator and veteran journalist with 20 years of experience, including as a staff writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Yukari’s book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs (Harpers Business) was translated into seven languages. She is an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University, where she has taught journalism fundamentals, investigative reporting and the Medill Justice Project. She is also an advisor for San Quentin News. She was previously a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.  

Zenobia Jeffries Warfield is executive editor at YES! Media, and has been in media for 15 years. She honed her skills as a reporter, managing editor, and editor for eight years at a community newspaper in Detroit. She joined YES! in 2016 as an associate editor charged with building and growing YES!’s racial justice beat. In addition to writing and editing, she has produced, directed, and edited short documentaries spotlighting community movements to international democracy. Zenobia directs coverage for YES! Magazine, YES! Media’s editorial partnerships, and serves as chair of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

To see who is already in this impressive group of peers, see the Emerging Leaders Council Alumni.

Back to top